The 58th World Congress and Exhibition, which took place on 7-11 June, offered a unique opportunity to conduct an in-depth reflection on the hot topics for public transport and urban mobility at large
It is more than ever the right moment to illustrate the vitality of our sector and to reiterate the message that UITP has been conveying for many years now: public transport offers green and sustainable solutions to the urban gridlock and greatly contributes to the economic vitality of our urban centres. As such, public transport is part of the solution to the current energetic, financial and economic crises.
Motorists in many countries are already reconsidering their mobility behavior and turning to public transport. A hike in passenger numbers will involve providing greater capacity in vehicles. To create this extra volume and turn new users into satisfied and loyal customers, public transport companies, their authorities and the supply industry need to act.
The need for public transport
No city today can function efficiently without public transport. The need for cities to invest in public transport is now beyond question. Planners have now shifted their thinking from the old “should we invest in public transport?” to “How best to provide public transport?”. Under the banner ‘Making the right mobility choices’ UITP’s 58th World Congress gathered experts and speakers from around the globe to assist stakeholders who are facing difficult investment choices.
Of course there is no ‘one size fits all’ strategy or decision-making process when making a mobility choice. Selecting the right investment in a perspective of long-term network evolution has never been more complex. Whether it is a question of new infrastructure or renewing or extending existing infrastructure, the range of available options is wider than ever before. The 27 Congress sessions give delegates the chance to hear about the most up to-date options with their advantages and drawbacks. To provide a broad view of all the issues at stake, the congress programme – in the form of sessions, roundtables, workshops and panel discussions – covered the range of parameters that need to be taken into account.
With this knowledge stored away, and equipped with a framework for analysis, delegates left the Congress in a position to take the best possible informed decisions for the short, medium and long term for their cities. The aim was to provide delegates and decision-makers a complete ‘tool kit’ from the Congress to take home.
The first plenary session dealt with the crucial theme of investment in difficult times. Raise the attractiveness of the sector to convince private investors, anticipate the end of oil, and make the right mobility choices in times of crisis, will be themes addressed by top executives from Madrid, Dubai and Hong-Kong who will share their experiences and views with the audience.
It is impossible here to describe all the themes that were covered by the congress sessions. The contribution of public transport to remodeling and improving urban space was examined. The best ways to improve the quality and enhance the image of public transport in order to make it the preferred choice of citizens were presented. The most efficient ways to transform public transport companies into customer-oriented service companies were investigated. Innovative source of funding were presented with a critical assessment of schemes such as value land capture and public private partnership. The future EU policy was examined in this critical period when a new European Parliament and a new commission entered into force.
All of these issues of course are not static, and were examined in a way that reflects the dynamic and evolving reality. Optimal solutions will never be universal. However, benchmarking can help identify key success factors that are transferable worldwide.
To ensure a comprehensive and high-quality programme, sessions and workshops featured other topics with a key bearing on the future of our sector. Issues explored will include mode-related questions such as the suitability of rail in different needs and contexts, world-class examples of profitable bus systems and energy savers for consumption in the bus. A broad selection of hot topics relating to urban life ‘Public Transport Security: Caring Mother or Big Brother?’, framework conditions (‘Authorities set the conditions for better or worse’) and service-related questions such as a round table on ‘A smile is worth a thousand welcomes’ and ‘IT solutions: are we delivering’ were the subject of dedicated sessions.
The Mobility & City Transport Exhibition is the most anticipated international trade fair, with over 30,000m2 and 6,000 visitors. It interacts with the Congress as the place where industry showcases its contribution to building the future of public transport.
The exhibition enabled visitors and delegates to witness the state-of-the-art solutions and to take their projects a step further. It was also the place to do effective business and to network thanks to the participation of major providers and key decision-makers. The 14 expo-forums taking place on the exhibition site offered an additional platform to engage and share product developments.
Through these two complementary axes, the UITP congress and exhibition is a unique opportunity to make the case for public transport worldwide and illustrate the wonderful potential offered by our industry in the short and long term.